By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Fight cards that are free to the public are quite common in the Philippines. They can be seen in small towns during fiestas and even in the major cities. The downside is that these promotions don’t usually get a lot of attention in the major newspapers and television. So it’s up to the truly die-hard fans to monitor where and when these cards are happening.
The Greenery, an establishment in Cebu City that houses restaurants and spas, hosted a seven bout fight card within its grounds. The main event was a slam-bang eight rounder between Clyde Azarcon (14-2-1,5KO’s) and Gary Rojo (9-12-1,5KO’s). Azarcon had previously lost to Rene Mark Cuarto in a WBO Oriental miniflyweight title bout. Rojo, on paper, was not expected to put up much of a resistance. But it turned out to be a nip and tuck affair.
Both boxers were willing to trade at close quarters, much to the delight of the small crowd that gathered on a Saturday night. In the fourth, a sharp one-two combo sent Rojo down. He got up and managed to survive Azarcon’s efforts to finish him. Rojo looked to be in more trouble in the fifth when he dazed and knocked down by an accidental head butt. After being given five minutes to recover, he finished the round by bloodying Azarcon’s nose.
Heavy trading in center ring continued in the subsequent rounds. Just when it seemed Azarcon was headed for a points win, Rojo knocked him down in the final round and managed to save the fight. The three judges came up with a majority draw – 75-75 twice and 76-75.
They were fighting for the vacant VISPROBA light flyweight title, which is a stepping stone to a higher ranking in the Philippines.
In the undercards – Carlo Demecillo decked Jeffrey Stella for the ten count in round four, Mark Rotilles decided not to go on fighting for round three against Rhonvex Capuloy, Brian James Wild stopped Mikey Durano in two rounds.
Taiwanese Ming Hung Lee suffered his first career loss against Matthew Fondales by unanimous decision. Fondales landed the harder punches all night long winning 39-37 twice and 40-36.
April Jay Abne knocked down Marvin Laping three times in the opening round prompting the referee’s stoppage and Arian Melgo dropped Patrick Dakay twice in round one and won by TKO.
The fight card was promoted by Big Yellow Promotions.
During the lean pre-Manny Pacquiao years, it was the free boxing shows that managed to keep the fans interested. In small towns, it is usually the local government that foots the bill. On the negative side, Filipino fight fans expect to watch boxing for free. In fact, in 2016, the IBF world junior bantamweight title fight between Puerto Rican McJoe Arroyo and Jerwin Ancajas was held for free in Metro Manila inside a military base. It is only in Cebu City where promoters have a paying audience. But even in the city known as the Philippines’ boxing hotbed, two promoters have decided to close shop. Still, these free to the public boxing shows will continue because they have become part of the country’s boxing tradition.
By Rene Bonsubre,jr
It was a night filled with brutal knockouts but John Riel Casimero’s beatdown of Japanese Kenya Yamashita had the more veteran observers buzzing. Boxing writers who attended the official weigh-in wondered if he could carry his punching power a couple of divisions higher. One of the reasons for this uncertainty was his lethargic showing against Jonas Sultan in an IBF junior bantamweight eliminator a couple of years ago.
Yamashita did manage to take Casimero’s punches early in the fight. But Casimero added body shots to his offense as the rounds progressed and Yamashita was bruised, bloodied and dazed at the end of the fifth. There was concern already about Yamashita’s well-being with the ring doctor checking in on him before the start of the sixth.
The fight was allowed to continue and a sharp right uppercut sent Yamashita crashing into his corner. Medical personnel attended to him before he was able to leave the ring on his own two legs.
That win last Saturday was Casimero’s warning shot to the bantamweight division. He told this writer during the weigh that he intended to win another world title as a bantamweight. The fight against Yamashita dismissed any doubts as to whether he was still a viable force.
“I heard Jerwin Ancajas is planning a move to 118,” Casimero told this writer, “Well, I am going to beat him to it. I will be going for the big fights before he does.”
There is still an ongoing World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament but Casimero did mention recently crowned WBC champ Nordine Oubaali of France as one of those that he would like to fight.
Casimero’s upset loss to Sultan prevented him from being part of the first all-Filipino world title fight in almost a hundred years. Ancajas outclassed Sultan and successfully defended his IBF junior bantamweight title by unanimous verdict.
The chatter after the Yamashita fight was how did an accomplished two-division champion like Casimero lose to an upstart like Sultan. Casimero won IBF world titles at 108 and 112 lbs. He has been a pro for a dozen years now and beat the likes of Luis Alberto Lazarte, Pedro Guevara, Amnat Ruenroeng and Charlie Edwards. Casimero is also a noted road warrior, having fought in eight different countries. He is also known for surviving an infamous ring riot in Argentina after he beat Lazarte. Boxing insiders who gathered at ringside talked about his inconsistencies in training. He does have a history of gaining a lot of weight in between fights. In fact, he lost his IBF junior flyweight title at the scales in 2014.
The 30 year old Casimero is now 26-4, 17KO’s. The veteran boxing writers who followed his career all agree that with dedication and discipline, he can be a world champion again. In his fight against Yamashita, he was reunited with cornerman Jhun Agrabio, who guided him in his revenge fourth round TKO win against the Thai Ruenroeng in Beijing, China in 2016.
Last year, Casimero trained with Morris East, a Filipino former WBA world junior welterweight champ, in Las Vegas. Casimero had one fight in Tijuana, Mexico,an easy second round TKO win over Jose Pech.
By Rene Bonsubre,jr
The Peñalosa surname holds a special place in Philippine boxing history. Most fight fans remember the two brothers Dodie Boy and Gerry, who had four world title belts between them. But it was the family patriarch, Carl Peñalosa, who started it all in the 1960’s. He won the Philippine championship at lightweight and junior welterweight.
His son, Diosdado, aka Dodie Boy, is known for being the first Filipino to win world titles in two different weight divisions. A slight handicap of having one shorter leg due to childhood polio did not stop him from pursuing boxing as a profession. In 1983, he was the first light flyweight world champion of the IBF. Dodie Boy beat Japan’s Satoshi Shingaki by 12th round TKO in Osaka. In his first attempt to win a world flyweight title, he lost to Panama’s Hilario Zapata, who held the WBA belt, by unanimous decision in 1986 in a fight held in the Philippines.
In 1987, he took the IBF flyweight crown from Hi-Sup Shin of South Korea by 5th round TKO in Incheon. Dodie Boy lost his title on home soil by 11th round knockout to another Korean Chang-Ho Choi.In 1989, he would lose a split decision to Dave McAuley by split decision in his final attempt to win the IBF flyweight title.
Dodie Boy finished his career in 1995 at 31-7-3,13KO’s.
Two years after Dodie’s retirement, his younger brother Geronimo aka Gerry, dethroned WBC super flyweight champion Hiroshi Kawashima of Japan by split decision in Tokyo. Gerry is known for being the best counterpuncher and ring technician produced by the Philippines. His career hit a snag when he lost his title by split decision to Korean In-Joo Cho in Seoul.He lose again in a rematch and losses to Japanese Masamori Tokuyama twice made him go into a brief retirement in 2003.
Gerry would make a comeback and in 2007 he fought as a junior featherweight and lose a unanimous decision to WBO titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon. But against all odds, Gerry won his second world title at bantamweight, knocking out WBO champ Jhonny Gonzalez with a body punch in 2007 in Sacramento.
He would be stopped by Juan Manuel Lopez in 2009 in another attempt to win a third world title. Gerry retired in 2010 with a record of 55-8-2,37KO’s.
Gerry is now a promoter. He promotes his nephews who have decided to continue the family legacy. Dodie’s son- Dodie Boy,Jr - was a rising star but has been inactive since 2016. He is unbeaten at 19-0,15KO’s.
Dodie Junior’s brother Dave is now the star in the family. Against the wishes of his uncle, he pleaded to continue his boxing career. Gerry obliged to promote him in televised fights last year. Dave Peñalosa (14-0,10KO’s) will be pitted against Marcos Cardenas (19-6-1,15KO’s) on February 16 for the WBO Oriental featherweight title at the SM Skydome in Quezon City in the Philippines.
Another Peñalosa clan member, Carlo Caesar, will fight Thai Watana Phenbaan on the undercard.
Gerry will be looking closely at his nephews in this fight card and assess if they have the right stuff to go all the way. He told this writer after the weigh-in. “They kept calling me a couple of years ago, asking for a fight. They want to continue boxing. They insisted on it. I told them to be very serious in their training. If they give an impressive performance, I will continue to promote them, and let them fight for a world title.”
It will be interesting to see if the next generation of Peñalosas can equal or even surpass the clan’s accomplishments. There will be a lot of pressure on them in the Philippines. The fight card this Saturday is one of the few cards in the country that will be aired live on free television. ESPN5/TV5 has been supporting local boxing in this regard and during the press conference after the weigh-in, they announced that ratings have been very good.
Photo – Carlo Caesar and Dave Penalosa during Friday’s weigh-in in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Winning a world title is supposed to bring huge benefits to a boxer’s career. But for Marlon Tapales, it meant periods of inactivity.
Three years ago, he waged the fight of his life against Pungluang Sor Singyu (Panya Uthok) in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Tapales had to rise from the canvas twice in the fifth, endure the pain inflicted by brutal body shots, to stop the Thai in round eleven.
Tapales was praised by sportswriters not only for winning the WBO world bantamweight title but for beating someone who had a long list of Filipino victims on his resume. But still, he remained overlooked by the casual fans in the talent rich Philippine boxing scene.
Being dormant for nine months led to losing his title on the scales in Japan. Tapales was a huge favorite against Shohei Omori, a man he already stopped in two rounds in 2015. But despite his efforts to make weight, he was still more than a pound above the division limit of 118.
The title was declared vacant but the fight pushed through with Tapales winning by 11th round TKO. He returned home an ex-champion and his team made known their plan to move him up to junior featherweight. But, he had to wait seventeen months for another fight.
In those months of inactivity, there were reports of Tapales being matched against Mexican Cesar Juarez for the interim WBO junior featherweight crown. The rumor that circulated here in Cebu was that the offer was eventually turned down because Tapales’ management and trainer felt he did not have enough time to prepare. This decision left a lot of boxing pundits scratching their heads; Juarez lost to Isaac Dogboe by TKO in round five in January of 2018.
Tapales’ only fight last year was an easy opening round knockout of Tanzanian Goodluck Mrema in Metro Manila.
The good news is he is slated for a fight in Los Angeles this February 16 against Fernando Vargas Parra (34-14-3,23KO’s) of Mexico. This card features WBA super world featherweight champ Leo Santa Cruz defending against Rafael Rivera.
A few days ago, a video uploaded on social media showed Tapales hitting the mitts with former WBC light flyweight champ Rodel Mayol, who now works as a trainer in California.
“Marlon is already an excellent fighter,” Mayol told this writer in an internet chat, “He won a world title before,he will be a champion again.”
The 26 year old Tapales (31-2,14KO’s) hails from Lanao del Norte in the Philippines. He has been a pro for more than ten years now. For the better part of his career, he fought under Rex “Wakee” Salud Promotions. Many feel he has not lived up to his full potential and that with his skill level he could have reached the same heights as Nonito Donaire and Donnie Nietes. The latest super bantamweight/ junior featherweight rankings has him at number 6 in the WBO and number 7 in the IBF.
By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
Filipino contender Genesis Servania (32-1,15KO’s) will risk his lofty world ranking when he takes on unbeaten Carlos Castro (21-0,9KO’s) of Phoenix, Arizona in Fresno, California on February 10.
The 27 year old Servania collected three straight wins since suffering his only career loss in a world title bout against WBO featherweight champ Oscar Valdez in Tucson, Arizona two years ago. Servania was in China last December sparring with Chinese boxer Xu Can, who would go on and dethrone Jesus Rojas of Puerto Rico for the WBA featherweight world title.
Servania’s lone loss was actually an impressive performance and earned him a contract last year to fight under Top Rank Promotions. He is currently ranked the number one featherweight contender by the WBA and WBO and number five by the IBF. If Servania gets past Castro, it would be interesting to see if he will go for a rematch against Valdez or target the newly crowned Xu.
Servania’s last fight was at the Oracle Arena in Oakland last September and he showcased the power in his right hand by decking Carlos Carlson of Mexico in three rounds. Servania has arrived in the United States accompanied by his Japanese manager Naoyuki Kashimi and trainer Mark Gil Melligen.
“My training went very well,” Servania told this writer, “I only looked at Castro’s fight video only once, but we prepared for his fighting style.”
The 24 year old Castro beat Alexis Santiago by TKO in the tenth round to capture the vacant WBC USNBC super bantamweight title last year. All of his fights were held in his native Arizona.
Servania vs Castro will be on the undercard of the WBC world super lightweight title bout between Jose Carlos Ramirez and challenger Jose Zepeda set at the Save Mart Arena.
Servania was one of the headliners of ALA Promotions in the Philippines before he transferred to the Kashimi Boxing Gym in Japan three years ago.
He joined a long list of Filipino boxers and trainers who decided to seek greener pastures in Japan. This trend that has been going on for decades. Now, Filipino boxers and trainers are also going to China to earn more money. Boxing in the Philippines may have been boosted by the worldwide popularity of Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire but most Filipino boxers and trainers still do not earn enough to support their families. Very few promoters are making a profit. Even in the island of Cebu, long considered the boxing capital of the Philippines, two prominent promoters are no longer active.
The Philippines will continue to produce talented boxers like Servania, but it is tragic that local boxing continues to suffer from lack of sponsors.
Photo – Genesis Servania with trainer Mark Gil Melligen celebrating their win last September
These articles are submitted by guest writers and sites. They aren't submitted by the usual folk behind Asian Boxing and don't fall in line with our editorial stance, giving a fresh view on various boxing issues from the Asian boxing scene.